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By | October 31, 2016

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Minnesota Vikings (5-1) at Chicago Bears (1-6)
KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, Soldier Field. TV: ESPN, Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters.

Vikings vs Bears Live
SERIES HISTORY: 110th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead series 57-50-2. The Vikings have won the last three, including last year’s game at Soldier Field, 23-20. The Bears have won seven of the last eight against the Vikings at Soldier Field.
GAMEDATE: 10/31/16
KEYS TO THE GAME: Line issues are the chief concern for the Minnesota Vikings, reeling after their first loss of the season at Philadelphia last week.

Vikings vs Bears Live

The Bears are equipped with edge rushers and rookie first-round pick Leonard Floyd had his best game of the year last week. Adjustments are coming from offensive coordinator Norv Turner, and getting rid of the ball on quick reads in shotgun formation could ease pressure on Bradford.
The Packers had three receivers with at least 10 catches against Chicago in Week 7. The Vikings, who are growing the role of wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, needed points from their special teams — Marcus Sherels’ punt return and a last-second field goal — to tip the Bears at Soldier Field last season.
Predicting what’s coming from Chicago’s offense is a bit of a Rubik’s Cube with Jay Cutler reinstalled at quarterback and paired for the first time with rookie RB Jordan Howard.
Cutler and WR Alshon Jeffery have dinged the Vikings’ defense for five touchdown catches in the past five meetings.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
–Bears WR Alshon Jeffery vs. Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes. Jeffery averaged 100 yards receiving in games Cutler played and 63 in the games Brian Hoyer started. Rhodes has four career interceptions. These two usually get matched up in Bears-Vikings games, and Rhodes is bigger and more equipped to handle Jeffery in jump ball situations than other Vikings cornerbacks. He’ll face this and the back-shoulder throws because these are two of Cutler’s favorite weapons when going to Jeffery, both in goal line situations and on the rest of the field.
–Bears LB Leonard Floyd vs. Vikings LT T.J. Clemmings or OT Jake Long. Floyd two sacks, a forced fumble and TD recovery last week. Long gave up two strip sacks that helped turn the game against the Eagles. Long has only been with the Vikings a short time, so expecting him to know the offense well enough to step right in and play due to injuries wasn’t realistic — coach Mike Zimmer admitted as much this week. However, Long was beaten in matchups that had little to do with not knowing an assignment.

Vikings vs Bears Live

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Bears LB Pernell McPhee. The Bears got their most dynamic defensive player back against Green Bay when he played 19 snaps with virtually no practice time since the 2015 season due to knee surgery. McPhee had minimal impact, just one quarterback hurry. His strength and explosiveness are critical off the edge against both the run and pass, but in his 19 snaps against the Packers he showed little burst as he tries to work himself back into game shape. Whether he’s able to do this in the second half of the season will dictate largely how well the defense bounces back from an injury-plagued, difficult start to the season.
INJURY REPORT: Minnesota — Out: DT Sharrif Floyd (knee), C/G Zac Kerin (hand), RB Jerick McKinnon (ankle), S Andrew Sendejo, (ankle). Questionable: WR Cordarrelle Patterson (concussion), TE MyCole Pruitt (knee), CB Marcus Sherels (wrist), WR Jarius Wright (ankle). Chicago — Out: CB Deiondre’ Hall, ankle. Doubtful: NT Eddie Goldman (ankle), OT Kyle Long (triceps), WR Eddie Royal (toe). Questionable: CB Bryce Callahan (hamstring), RB Jeremy Langford (ankle), LB Pernell McPhee (knee), WR Cameron Meredith (shoulder), CB Tracy Porter (knee), G Josh Sitton (ankle).
INJURY REPORT: Minnesota — Out: DT Sharrif Floyd (knee), C/G Zac Kerin (hand), RB Jerick McKinnon (ankle), S Andrew Sendejo, (ankle). Questionable: WR Cordarrelle Patterson (concussion), TE MyCole Pruitt (knee), CB Marcus Sherels (wrist), WR Jarius Wright (ankle). Chicago — Out: CB Deiondre’ Hall, ankle. Doubtful: NT Eddie Goldman (ankle), OT Kyle Long (triceps), WR Eddie Royal (toe). Questionable: CB Bryce Callahan (hamstring), RB Jeremy Langford (ankle), LB Pernell McPhee (knee), WR Cameron Meredith (shoulder), CB Tracy Porter (knee), G Josh Sitton (ankle).
FAST FACTS: Vikings WR Stefon Diggs had three TD receptions in two games against the Bears last season. … Bears RB Jordan Howard ranks second among NFL rookies with 352 rush yards. … Bears WR Cameron Meredith has nine-plus receptions in two of the past three games.
PREDICTION: Spending a week with a honked-off head coach, Mike Zimmer, will be motivation for the Vikings, and their defense needs no prodding to put the squeeze on the Chicago Bears.

OUR PICK: Vikings, 24-15.

–Jeff Reynolds

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